While sleeping during a train ride in 1926, E.B. White had a dream about a tiny boy who acted like a rat. That little boy soon became Stuart Little, a little mouse that was the son of a human family. White wrote down several stories starring Stuart and read them to his nieces and nephews. After a decade of encouragement from various associates, White finally finished scribing Stuart’s adventures. Stuart Little was released in 1945 by Harper & Brothers (now HarperCollins), featuring illustrations by Garth Williams.
The book largely followed Stuart and his family as they dealt with his small size. Stuart becomes protective of a small bird named Margalo that was adopted by the family, and keeps her safe from their malevolent cat, Snowbell. When she’s warned that one of Snowbell’s friends planned to eat her, Margalo flees and Stuart sets out on a cross-country trip to find her in a gas-powered model car.
|Johnny Carson with Stuart.|
The book received mixed reviews from critics, but was generally well-received and has become a staple of children’s reading over the decades. In 1970, White received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (now the Children’s Literature Legacy Award) for both this book and Charlotte’s Web. Four years prior, Stuart received his first adaptation as an episode of NBC’s Children’s Theater narrated by Johnny Carson. “The World of Stuart Little” won a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy.
In 1999, the book was loosely adapted in a major motion picture by Franklin/Waterman Productions and Global Medien GK for Columbia Pictures. Stuart Little is a live-action movie that featured a CGI Stuart (Michael J. Fox) that was adopted by the Little family. Stuart’s step-brother, George (Jonathan Lipnicki), had a hard time adjusting to having a mouse for a brother. Likewise, family cat Snowbell (Nathan Lane) was mortified to be living with his natural enemy. Just as events started to bring the family into cohesion, Stuart’s natural parents supposedly show up to reclaim him in a plot cooked up by neighborhood cats to remove Stuart from the house. The film was written by M. Night Shyamalan and Greg Brooker, directed by Rob Minkoff, and also featured Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis as Frederick and Eleanor Little, and Steve Zahn as Snowbell’s friend Monty.
The film was released on December 17, 1999 and become a box office success. Columbia greenlit a sequel, this time penned by Douglas Wick and Bruce Joel Rubin. Stuart Little 2 incorporated more elements from the original book into its story. It introduced Margalo (Melanie Griffith) who initially worked for the sinister Falcon (James Woods) as a thief. She conned her way into the Little household but was soon taken with the family and couldn’t steal from them; leading her into trouble with Falcon. The film also introduced Martha (Anna & Ashley Hoelck), the Littles’ new baby daughter. Released on July 19, 2002, the film didn’t perform as well as the first but was still moderately successful.
In 2003, Sony Pictures Television decided to translate the films into an animated series. Developed by Melody Fox, who also served as the head writer, Stuart Little picked up from where the second movie left off. It followed the adventures of Stuart (David Kaufman) as he helped his family out of jams and learned lessons about life. Laurie was the only actor from the films to reprise his role of Frederick Little. The remaining cast was filled out with Myles Jeffrey as George, Kevin Schon (with Quinton Flynn doing some episodes) as Snowbell, Jennifer Hale as Eleanor and Martha, and Andre Sogliuzzo as Monty. Mark Hamill would assume the role of Falcon in a guest-appearance, as would Kathy Najimy with Margalo. This series marked Kaufman’s second time taking over a Fox role, the first being that of Marty McFly in Back to the Future: The Animated Series. Likewise, Schon and Flynn had previously assumed Lane’s role voicing Timon for the latter half of The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa.
|The Littles: Frederick, Eleanor, George, Martha, Snowbell and Stuart.|
Stuart Little: The Animated Series began on March 1, 2003 on HBO Family with Minkoff and Wick serving amongst the executive producers. The series was co-produced by Red Wagon Entertainment, Adelaide Productions and Minkoff’s Sprocketdyne Entertainment. Although Stuart was presented in his CGI form at the beginning of each episode, the series was rendered in traditional animation by Wang Film Co., Ltd. The series made use of Alan Silvestri’s theme from the movies, but the original score was composed by Kevin Kiner and Van Dyke Parks. The series ran for a single season of 13 episodes, written by Fox, Carin Geenberg, Rob Hoegee, Brian Kaplan, Cliff MacGillivray, Gregory K. Pincus, David Slack, Mark Waxman, Amy Wolfman and Amy Wolfram. Nine of the episodes were released across three VHS tapes from 2003-04. In 2007, two DVD collections were released containing 3 episodes each. The remaining episodes were released between two more DVDs in 2009. All the releases were handled by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Internationally, the complete series was released in a single set.